2014 Offensive Linemen Recruits Likely to Compete for Starting Role as Freshmen
The physical and mental demands of playing on the front line of a collegiate offensive attack can make it awfully difficult for freshmen to crack a starting lineup. Raw strength will serve you well, but if a coaching staff can't trust you to make pre-snap adjustments and react accordingly, a season on the sidelines likely awaits.
While the majority of incoming offensive linemen are destined to spend their first year on campus learning more about a playbook than live-action college football, there are a few phenomenal prospects prepared to make an early impact. We'll examine several members of the 2014 recruiting class who are clearly ready to compete for immediate playing time.
5-Star Tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La.)
Cameron Robinson is the consensus No. 1 offensive lineman in the 2014 class, and he's been recruited accordingly. The 6'5", 330-pound West Monroe High School standout fielded offers from Michigan, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Auburn and Texas A&M, among others.
He ultimately chose Alabama over LSU during a nationally televised press conference in early September.
Robinson, ranked the No. 1 overall prospect in America by 247Sports, is a dominant run-blocker who displays rare knee bend. It's remarkable to watch a young man of Robinson's size move with such fluidity, and his raw power is elite.
Alabama currently implements a rotation at right tackle, where freshman Grant Hill and junior Austin Shepherd have both seen substantial playing time. Junior Cyrus Kouandjio is firmly entrenched as the team's starting left tackle.
CBS Sports projects Kouandjio to be a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Robinson would immediately warrant consideration in the battle to replace him.
4-Star Tackle Brian Wallace (St. Louis, Mo.)
Brian Wallace brings a polished approach to the tackle position and is deceivingly quick on his feet. The 6'6", 305-pound Christian Brothers College prospect is a natural athlete who can hold his own against rangy defensive ends.
He has a long reach and displays technically sound hand placement. Wallace, ranked the nation's No. 6 tackle prospect and Missouri's top recruit by 247Sports, has suitors lined up for his services as a front-line bookend.
His offer list includes Oklahoma, Ohio State, Missouri, Michigan State and UCLA. 247Sports identifies Iowa, Arkansas, Nebraska and Alabama as the favorites to land a commitment from Wallace.
5-Star Guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif.)
Damien Mama is a monstrous force at the line's interior. He is such a beast that his first collegiate scholarship offers started arriving during his sophomore season, before he even earned a spot on St. John Bosco's varsity squad.
The 6'4", 370-pound dominator makes it look easy at the high school level. He absolutely owns overmatched opponents and serves up pancakes in pass protection and run blocking alike.
Mama remains uncommitted but continues to visit potential landing spots. He made official visits to Notre Dame and Wisconsin earlier this month, while a trip to Tuscaloosa looms large in November.
He is listed as the nation's No. 1 guard and 26th overall prospect in 247Sports' composite rankings. Mama is also considering offers from Ohio State, UCLA, USC and BYU.
5-Star Tackle David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Northern Florida phenom David Sharpe is arguably the best uncommitted offensive lineman in the country. The 6'6", 288-pound Providence High School senior is well-suited to play either tackle position at the next level.
Sharpe stayed busy this summer, visiting a variety of campuses he could soon call home. He journeyed to Georgia, Clemson, South Carolina and Florida. Aside from those programs, his offer list includes Duke, Alabama, Ohio State, USC and Nebraska.
Sharpe shows excellent footwork and few negative tendencies. He is a polished pass-blocker, which bodes well for whichever quarterback ultimately has the pleasure of his company next season.
4-Star Guard Roderick Taylor (Jackson, Miss.)
Roderick Taylor is an absolute road grader. He's the guy you run behind when it's 4th-and-1.
Taylor, a 6'3.5", 305-pound specimen from Callaway High School, is a ferocious run-blocker. When he gains control at the point of attack and gets his hands underneath a defender, it's over.
The guard has a mean streak. It's not malicious, but Taylor's style of play should strike fear into opposing linemen early and often during his college career.
He committed to Ole Miss in July, turning down offers from Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Alabama. He is listed as the nation's No. 2 guard prospect and top player in Mississippi by 247Sports' composite rankings.
Taylor should have every opportunity to unseat veterans on the depth chart as Ole Miss looks to fill holes left behind by seniors Jared Duke and Patrick Junen.